Finchem Addresses Change Doesnt Alter Augusta Stance

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PGA Tour (75x100)ATLANTA ' PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced several changes in his annual State of the Tour address Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club, site of this week's Tour Championship, but one thing that didnt change was his stance on the Augusta National debate.
 
Theres going to be a tournament at Augusta, The Masters, and its going to be on CBS television, and our players are going to go play, Finchem said. What else happens, Im not going to speculate on that.
 
Martha Burk, National Council of Womens Organizations chairperson, has urged the commissioner to stop recognizing the Masters Tournament as a major championship, as well as the prize money earned, until the club accepts a female member.
 
While we appreciated and respected her position, and we do, thats just something for all factors considered that we were not prepared to do. So we have been very clear on that, Finchem said.
 
In his statement, issued Aug. 20 to Burk, Finchem said: Since the PGA Tour does not cosponsor the Masters Tournament and does not have a contractual relationship with the Masters as it has with its cosponsored events, we are unable to require Augusta National to implement our host club policy with respect to the Masters.
 
After having considered this matter, we have concluded that we must continue to recognize the Masters Tournament as one of professional golfs major championships.
 
Despite numerous prompts, Finchem didnt want to further discuss the Augusta matter Wednesday. He did, however, address several other items in his press conference, including major alterations in the Senior and Buy.Com Tours.

Nationwide TourNationwide Insurance will sponsor the developmental tour for the next five years, starting in 2003. What started out as the Hogan Tour, and has been sponsored by Nike and Buy.Com, will now be known as the Nationwide Tour.
 
The Senior Tour will also have a new name next season. It will be called the Champions Tour.

Champions TourI think there is a realization by more and more companies, and I suppose by all of us, that unlike perhaps in the past, nobody considers themseleves a senior anymore, said Finchem, who added the change was made primarily to extend the PGA Tour brand.
 
The best way to do that, and how we want to characterize the broader scope of people on this tour, we felt champions resonated better than seniors.
 
Both tours will have their new names in their logos while incorporating the traditional PGA Tour swinging logo.
In addition to the name changes, Finchem said the average minimum purse for Nationwide events will be upped just shy of the $500,000 range. He also said that there would be further discussions on the issues of cart usage and age requirements for the Champions Tour at a later date.
 
He did say that there would be changes in 2003 to allow more past PGA Tour winners on the elder circuit, and that the tournament schedule would be reduced to 30-32 events next year.
 
We dont want to play up against the major championships and the World Golf Championships if we can avoid it, he said.
 
As for the primary circuit, Finchem said the PGA Tour would be fully sponsored in 2003, and the number of tournaments would basically stay the same. There were 49 events on the 2002 calendar, and Finchem expects 48 next year, with no event held opposite the American Express Championship.
 
The tour will release next seasons schedule in a couple of weeks. Finchem wouldnt go into detail as to which tournaments were saved by new sponsors and which ones were sacrificed, but did say Disney was safe and the future of the Greater Hartford Open was still up for debate.
 
On the business front, we are obviously in an extremely difficult environment, he said. It is the most difficult environment we have been in since the 1990-91 recession.'
 
Still, Finchem said the tour would continue to grow financially, thanks in part to the addition of major corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, Bank of America, Wachovia and Kinkos.
 
I think our official money is $199 million this year, give or take a few dollars, and it will be about $225 next year, and it will grow on the following three years to about $360 to $380, in that range, he said.
 
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